Ports & Destinations
International Cruise & Ferry Review
With a busy schedule of projects in the
pipeline, the cruise industry in Jamaica
is enjoying a purple patch. Sean Dudley
catches up with William Tatham of the
Port Authority of Jamaica to find out more
record number of Cruise
passenger visited the island
of Jamaica in 2014, and
with another record year
project in 2015, the positive
trends are continuing.
Numbers peaked at 1.4 million visitors
last year, and according to William Tatham
of the Port Authority of Jamaica, that
number could reach 1.5 million this year.
The good feeling has been furthered by the
Port Authority of Jamaica becoming a member
of the Cruise Lines International Association
(CLIA), the official trade organisation of the
cruise industry of North America.
“CLIA has become a global entity now, and
this presents a great opportunity,” says Tatham.
“Our thinking is that an opportunity lies in
being able to work with CLIA and being able to
reach travel agents in all the major markets.”
With more passengers to serve than ever
before and opportunities for further growth
on the horizon, what steps are being taken
by the Port Authority of Jamaica to ensure
the island progresses as a cruise destination?
Tatham says the authority is currently
focused on improvement projects at three
major destinations: Ocho Rios, Falmouth
and Montego Bay.
At Ocho Rios, the first stage of a three-part
project is now complete, which saw upgrades to
the main cruise terminal and the introduction
of a walking promenade into the town. The
second phase will get underway in September
2015 and should be completed by March 2016.
“The second phase is an upgrade and
repairs programme for Main Street in Ocho
Rios,” Tatham says. “This will see a partial
pedestrianisation of Main Street. We faced
some flooding issues that had to be addressed
ahead of this part of the project, but the
pedestrianisation will encourage visitors to
walk in and around the town in what will be
a much cleaner and nicer environment.”
Another major project at Ocho Rios is a
proposed second multipurpose pier.
“We’ve done the conceptuals, we’ve done
the engineering, and we are now looking to
get designs done,” confirms Tatham. “We
anticipate it’s going to take about four months
before construction begins in the fall and we’re
looking at completion before the end of 2016.”
An upgrade project is also underway
at Falmouth, with improvements already
having been made to the Harbour Lane area
of the town, and work in three more areas –
specifically Falmouth Street, Market Street
and Tharpe Street – is set to be completed
by March 2016.
At Montego Bay, plans go a step further.
“We have been pursuing a strategy which
really seems to be coming together, and that
is to start homeporting out of Montego Bay,”
Tatham reveals. “We’ve always done a bit of
homeporting in Jamaica, but it’s a business we
felt Montego Bay held a lot of potential for.”
The Thomson Dream began homeporting
at Montego Bay for the 2014-2015 winter
season, and is one of three ships now
homeporting at the port on the island’s
northern coast – the other two being the
Celestyal Crystal and the AIDAbella.
Following discussions with existing
homeport operators in Jamaica, as well as
newly interested parties, 2015-2016 looks
set to be Jamaica’s biggest homeport season,
with six ships from five different companies
now turning around on the island.
“We’ll be doing the turnaround
operations for AIDA, one for Thomson, one
for Celestyal and a partial turnaround of
MSC Opera,” Tatham says.
One major reason for optimism in the
Caribbean cruise industry at the moment
is what Tatham refers to as the ‘Cuba
phenomenon’. Tatham believes the building
momentum in Cuba’s cruise industry is
a distinct opportunity for Jamaica, and
Montego Bay’s northerly location – on
the coastline closest to Cuba – makes it a
natural location for development.
“Celestyal Cruises and MSC have both
announced they’ll be running cruises to Cuba,